17.10.15

IT'S FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION, NOT A RECOVERY.

In the recently concluded Democratic presidential debate, the hopefuls, who didn't disagree on much, concurred with the proposition that life is difficult for what they referred to as the middle class.  The Arts Mechanical has done well aggregating Federal Reserve charts that suggest ordinary people have, in fact, been hammered during the Era of Hope and Change.


Here's Arts Mechanical's interpretation.
The cold fact is that it seems like the entire country has broken down.  It’s been this way for almost ten years now and somehow the country just doesn’t know how to right itself. The big issue is that the political class, The People In Charge don’t really seem to understand that all they are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  The problem is that there is one party that not only wants to ignore the gap in the hull, they actually want to pump water into the hold.  Now counterflooding is a valid damage control technique, but not into the hold that is already being flooded.
That's likely to be a Republican talking point, and there will be limits to how well the Democrats can make the case that the painful recovery is a consequence of the seriously crippled economy they inherited.  Not to say that Democrats won't try, here's spokesman Luis Miranda explaining to Sean Hannity that it's the empty candy store.



Spoiler alert: Hannity was having none of it.  Well, that argument was wearing thin some years ago, as commentators for The Economist noted.
Mr Obama would have to give up credit for saving the economy while simultaneously admiting hapless impotence in the face of Republican opposition. Crediting all good to Mr Obama's leadership and all bad to Republican obstructionism, as Mr Cassidy does, may not be entirely honest, but it does have the considerable virtue of freeing Mr Obama of the burden of running as a feckless wimp stymied by Republican bullying. Had Mr Obama faced Republican majorities in both houses, instead of having had two years of Democratic majorities in both houses, and another two with a majority in the Senate, Mr Krugman's idea of running against the "do-nothing" Republican Congress might have had some merit. As it is, the best the president can possibly do is make Mr Cassidy's version of the argument more convincingly. Even then, if the economy refuses to cooperate, he's sunk, fair or not.
Two years later, the Republicans gained a Senate majority and enlarged their House majority, and that led to writers at the Puffington Host, of all places, to argue that the Democrats brought it on themselves.  But that argument is scant consolation to the current crop of Democrats and their sudden concern for the middle class.
When Republicans crow that the 2014 midterms were a referendum on Obama's failed policies, guess what? They're right, albeit unwittingly so. After all, these are also the failed policies of the GOP. Despite all of the gridlock and obstruction of the past six years, Washington continues to be dominated by a thoroughly bipartisan economic agenda -- one that favors the plight of wealthy elites well above the plight of ordinary human Americans. (You know, the very people that ponied up the boodle to fund all of these bailouts!) As the American economic ship was sinking into the icy deep, Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hewed to a strict “bankers and brokers first” lifeboat policy. Then they squinched up their faces and talked about how it sure would have been nice if there had been some more lifeboats for everybody else.
Is it any accident, dear reader, that the Taxed Enough Already part of the Republican coalition is not averse to smashing up the Grand Old Party, while the Democratic base is not fleeing at the first mention of democratic socialism?

But might something more be at work, something not so easily remedied by winning elections?  Falling median income, home ownership, and labor force participation.  Rising health insurance costs and food stamp use.  Suppose those are structural changes, not so easily reversed, excessively circumscribed stimulus bills or no.

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